Star Trek: The Superior Franchise

By Carl Slaughter: Star Wars fans get a lot of enjoyment from their favorite franchise’s movies, TV shows, books, merchandise, cosplay, and conventions.

But they don’t seriously imagine themselves slicing through bad guys and beasts with a light saber in Samurai style combat or levitating rocks with The Force.  Or, depending on their disposition, invading someone’s mind or distance strangling them.

Marvel fans have repeatedly broken box office records, but they don’t seriously anticipate someday flying around in a metal suit, much less turning into a green giant or waging epic battle over Infinity Stones.

Batman fans might think it would be great to be Batman, but do they really want to live in a cave, spend their days in seclusion brooding over the death of their parents, and spend their nights banging heads with psychotic criminals.

Wonder Woman is widely considered a role model, but how many Wonder Woman fans would line up to spend their life on an island without men, living and breathing gladiator training.

Which of us would give up our current life tomorrow to reign in Atlantis at the bottom of the sea or to fly around on a silver surfboard.

What character in the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Shannara, or Pern series are any of us ever going to become.  Nor have any of us ever walked into a wardrobe expecting to find ourselves in Narnia.

Ah, but Jean-Luc Picard.  He is not a god, alien, mutant, or cyborg.

He is a human with the right values and ambitions.  He not only embraces those values, he forcefully articulates them, unwaveringly insists on abiding by them, and compels others to follow his example.

We might not qualify as starship captains or even Starfleet officers, but we can aspire to be the person who strives to do the right thing and overcomes his baser instincts.  We might or might not reach the stars, but we can pursue scientific development with the right motives and use it for the right purposes.  And we can build an impressive civilization with those who share our desires and our vision.

We are not going to become Superman and we probably wouldn’t want the burden being him.  But Nobleman, if I can so nickname Picard, we want to be him and we know we can be him.

This is why Star Trek is the far more superior franchise.  This is why Star Trek will be here in 500 years, long after competing franchises have been replaced or abandoned.

An Interviewer’s Journey: From Battery Power to Warp 9

By Carl Slaughter: I didn’t set out to become an interviewer.  Or a muse for that matter.  Video compilations, never conceived it.

I just wanted some feedback about the first 10 chapters of a novel I intended to write.  To qualify for that feedback, Critters, the oldest and largest online speculative fiction workshop, required that I provide feedback to other writers.  Soon I started getting feedback from those writers about my critiques of their stories:  You understand my story and what I’m trying to accomplish with it much more than other critiquers.

When Tangent put out a call for reviewers, I used my Critters work to get on as a reviewer.  Fellow Critter Frank Dutkiewicz introduced me to Diabolical Plots, which was trying to accomplish the monumental task of reviewing all of Daily Science Fiction’s stories.  So I used my Tangent work to get on with Diabolical Plots.  I checked out the Diabolical Plots site and discovered that they also do interviews.

Mike Resnick was my first interviewee.  It was a long interview, covering a lot of territory, and he said he was “very satisfied” with it.  I have interviewed him so many times, I have lost count.

For years, I have corresponded with Resnick on every conceivable speculative fiction related topic.  He seems to know everything about everything and I’ve never known him to be wrong about anything.

(When I shared this perspective with his daughter Laura, a versatile and successful writer who obviously inherited his fiction talent, who has known him much longer than me, she set me straight.)

Well, almost everything.  One of my favorite activities is rummaging archives, doing Google searches, and reading Wiki author bios to get caught up on who’s who and what’s what in the speculative fiction community past and present.  Resnick is a walking encyclopedia of speculative fiction history and trivia.  But I have often been surprised and delighted to uncover information nuggets he did not possess.

He not only seems to know everything about everything, he seems to know everybody who is anybody.  He put me in contact with many other potential interviewees, most of them household names in sci-fi/fantasy.  “Mike Resnick put me in touch with you” seemed to an implied code between me and these other interviewees.  I never mentioned his name without snagging an interview.

When David Steffen, editor of Diabolical Plots, got distracted with The Submissions Grinder, which became an institution virtually overnight, he introduced me to John DeNardo at SF Signal.  When DeNardo shut down his site, Mike Glyer invited me over to File 770.

At SF Signal and File 770, I pioneered author features and series features.  I spent an awful lot of time in Amazon, publishers’ catalogs, and the SFWA’s speakers bureau in search of interesting books and interesting authors.  Cat Rambo, Susan Forrest, and Rob Dircks put out the word at SFWA and Tina Connolly and Lawrence Schoen put out the word at Codex.  My interviews/features are included in the Critters newsletter.

Interviewees have included Michael Swanwick, Connie Willis, Kris Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, Nancy Kress, James Patrick Kelly, Kevin Anderson, Ken Liu, Ann Leckie, Martha Wells, Todd McCaffrey, Jason Sanford, Jonathan Maberry, Mur Lafferty, Tina Connolly, Brad Torgersen, Lou Anders, Toni Weisskopf, Jeanne Cavelos, and Andrew Burt.

Of course, the list includes many new authors.  Some of them I met on Critters before they were discovered.  Tom Greene, for example, had been writing for 20 years unpublished when he joined Critters.  Now he writes regularly for Analog.

I have lost count of the SFWA current and former executives, Analog frequent writers, and fellow Critters I’ve interviewed.  With the help of Tor publicity director Patty Garcia, I was the first person to interview Chinese author Liu Cixin in English.  (Still waiting for that interview with Adam Christopher she promised me.)  I corresponded at length with Bishop O’Connell about his “Forgotten” novel.  I wrote an 18,000 word critique of Carl Frederick’s manuscript for The Trojan Carousel.  I stopped counting the Critters critiques at 200.  I stopped counting the interviews at 135.  I haven’t even tried to count the video links, but I estimate it’s approaching 500.

At Diabolical Plots, it was not unusual to wait 2 months for an interview to be posted.  At SF Signal, sometimes 2 weeks.  At File 770, turnaround time is as quick as 2 days.  I don’t have to do my own formatting at File 770 and Mike Glyer is much more open about the type and style of content.  So my productivity immediately shot to warp 9.  We’re still working hard to expand and increase book coverage.

It’s been a very satisfying ride.  But as you can see, I didn’t do it alone.  Every time the tank approached empty, one person or another in the speculative fiction community would step in with a refuel.

MacFarlane, Stewart, Lee Interviews

Curated by Carl Slaughter:


Wall to wall carpet, wood, leather, house plants.  “It looked like a really plush corporate office.  That makes it the most realistic portrayal what it’s like in space.  If you’re out there for years and years, you’d go crazy if you were in something that looks like a submarine.”   Pre-Discovery and pre-Orville interview with Seth MacFarlane.


“When I look at the television shows that I responded to, if I watch a cop show, if I watch a medical show, I’m going to see the murder of the week, I’m going to see the disease of the week.  Growing up, I liked things like ‘The Twilight Zone.’ I was a ‘Star Trek’ fan because I didn’t know if I was going to see and adventure story, or a quiet relationship story, or a story involving some sort of social and political commentary.  To turn on a show and not have any idea what it is you’re going to see.”  Plus Seth MacFarlane’s imitation of Captain Kirk.  Also pre-Discovery and pre-Orville.



  • Patrick Stewart didn’t think Next Generation would last

  • Patrick Stewart on the moment he knew he was finished playing Professor X

  • Patrick Stewart:  “Warning:  Unknown British Shaekespearian Actor”

  • Patrick Stewart –  Larry King interview


  • Larry King – Stan Lee interview


Star Wars Video Roundup

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:

(1) Last Jedi Easter eggs

(2) New Hope – deleted Scenes

(3) Empire Strikes Back  –  deleted scenes

(4) 45,000 signatures on a petition to remove Last Jedi from the canon.

(5) John Williams recruited for Han Solo project:

Solo will stay in the Star Wars family with veteran franchise composer John Williams set to write the theme for the standalone film about Han Solo, slated for release on May 25. It will be Williams’ ninth assignment.

(6) If the Caretakers aren’t your favorite Last Jedi characters, you can’t sit with us

While the hype swirling around those silly little Porgs that pepper the screen in Star Wars: The Last Jedi is completely understandable based on looks alone, one group of characters has been vastly underrated, and frankly, it’s an abomination if you ask me. The dark horse I have in mind? The caretakers who keep the Jedi village on Ahch-To looking fresh as hell, that’s who.

Last Jedi Video Roundup

Selected by Carl Slaughter:

  • References You Missed In The Last Jedi

  • The Last Jedi Cast Answers the Web’s Most Searched Questions

  • Mark Hamill Hurts

Mark Hamill was so invested in the character of Luke Skywalker and the universe of Star Wars. You can see his enthusiasm in the way he speaks. This was more than a job or a paycheck. He signed on for the sequel trilogy only because he believed George Lucas, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher would be with him to continue their characters’ stories.


  • STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI Cast Interviews – Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega

  • Kids Interview The ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Cast With Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill & More

  • Star Wars LAST JEDI Review – Why Are Fans Split? (Finn Subplot Explained!)

  • Star Wars – Obi Wan Spin Off Movie Targets 2020 Release

Pixel Scroll 12/4/17 She’ll Be Scrolling Six White Pixels When She Files

(1) HOME IS THE HUNTER. Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson shared “SMOFCON 35: A Brief Report”:

…I had dinner with the talented and lovely Regina Kanyu Wang, a contributor to these pages, one of the actifans of China’s largest fan group AppleCore and the Executive Editor of Storycom, that has, among other things, worked with Clarkesworld magazine to bring translated Chinese SF to the west.

We talked about the cultural revolution, the reception of science fiction in China, censorship, the possibilities of a Chinese Worldcon, the fact that fans are fans the world over, different strains of “Asian” science fiction (the differences between Japanese SF and Chinese SF:  Japanese SF is far more influenced by western tropes than Chinese SD) and I felt like I took a crash course in the subject.  I’ve a lot more to learn, as do we all, but my prediction is that in not so many years, China is going to be dominating this market.

I also spent a fair amount of time helping out with the NASFiC bid for Utah in 2019.  They joined a wine and other liquors tasting party on Saturday evening (I don’t imbibe, but I sure as heck can carry cookies and danish to the room).  As a result of my generosity, I have been allowed to purchase a supporting membership (Grabthar’s Hammer level) and have been volunteered to run the bid table at the 2018 Boskone in February.  (An actifan’s reward is more work!)…

(2) NATIONAL NETWORK PICKS UP EL-MOHTAR STORY. Amal El-Mohtar’s horrible experience with TSA made the Montreal news this morning: Canada’s CBC has picked up the story — “Ottawa author detained by U.S. border guards says system ‘broken'”

El-Mohtar, born and raised in Ottawa, has been crossing the border into the U.S. three to four times a year for at least the last five years because that’s where many of her fans are.

With an Arabic-sounding name, she said she expects to be racially profiled, endure intense questioning and pat downs.

“Every time, I’d get the allegedly random extra screening. Every time. To the point where I’d always make jokes about, if only the lottery were this kind of random.”

This time, however, she was sent for secondary screening, which she said was particularly degrading.…

(3) YA HARASSMENT SURVEY. Anne Ursu, a Minneapolis YA author, is collecting data about “Sexual Harassment in Children’s Book Publishing”.

(4) BENEFIT FOR REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS. Children of a Different Sky, edited by Alma Alexander, is now available online (including at Amazon). Alexander told Carl Slaughter about the project in a File 770 interview.

It is a themed fantasy anthology, about migrants and refugees, and it is a charity anthology, with all the profits from the sales of the book above anything required for housekeeping and production are going straight to two selected charities working with refugees and migrants both in the USA and globally.

The contributors are Jane Yolen, Aliette de Bodard, Seanan McGuire, Irene Radford, Gregory L. Norris, Brenda Cooper, Joyce Reynolds-Ward, Randee Dawn, Jacey Bedford, Nora Saroyan, Marie Brennan, and Patricia McEwen

(5) CAN REBELS AND THE FEDERATION STOP THE EMPIRE? Trek Wars is the Star Wars/Star Trek Crossover Fan-Trailer.

The Death Star is on a direct course for Earth, the crew of the starship Enterprise teams up with the Rebel Alliance to stop it!


(6) NEXT UP AT KGB READING SERIES. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present N.K. Jemisin and Christopher Brown on Wednesday, December 20, 7p.m. at the KGB Bar.

N.K. Jemisin

N(ora). K. Jemisin is the author of the Broken Earth Trilogy, the Inheritance Trilogy, and the Dreamblood Duology. Her work has been nominated for the Nebula and World Fantasy Award; shortlisted for the Crawford, the Gemmell Morningstar, and the Tiptree; and she won a Locus Award for Best First Novel. In 2016, she became the first black person to win the Best Novel Hugo for The Fifth Season; she won again in 2017 for The Obelisk Gate.

Her short fiction has been published in Clarkesworld,, WIRED, and Popular Science. She writes a New York Times book review column, Otherworldly, covering recent Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Christopher Brown

Christopher Brown is the author of Tropic of Kansas, a novel published in 2017 by Harper Voyager that was recently nominated for the Compton Crook Award. He was a World Fantasy Award nominee for the anthology he co-edited, Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic.  His next two novels, the beginning of a series of speculative legal thrillers set in the world of Tropic of Kansas, are slated for publication by Harper in summer 2019 and 2020. His short fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies. He lives in Austin, where he also practices technology law.

The KGB Bar is located at 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs), New York, NY.

(7) OPERATIC VERSION OF OCTAVIA BUTLER WORK KICKSTARTER. Toshi Reagon has started a Kickstarter appeal to fund “Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower: The Opera”.

This opera, which I composed in collaboration with my mother, Dr Bernice Johnson Reagon lives in an unprecedented intersection of science fiction, opera, African-American art & spirituality, feminism, and climate activism.

It features a cast of 15 amazing singers of singular talent and diversity, and a 5 member orchestra which includes my band BigLovely, and a striking set design and visual installation, and a dream team of designers and creatives.

We are asking that you join us, and support us as we finish the creation of this ambitious project and bringing it to communities around the country and the world. It’s urgent, we have to do this now.

They have received $10,205 of the $30,000 goal as of this writing, with 23 days remaining in the drive.


  • Born December 4, 1964Marisa Tomei. She got her screen debut in an uncredited role (as “Health Club Girl”) in The Toxic Avenger (1984) — arguably one of the most gruesome creatures known to man.


  • John King Tarpinian learned from the December 2 Bliss that while there are things man was not meant to know, that doesn’t mean nobody knows them.

(10) MARTHA WELLS. The holiday season continues at The Book Smugglers with “Books of My Year – A Smugglivus post by Martha Wells”.

For Smugglivus, I thought I’d do a list of recommendations for some of the favorite books I’ve read this year, or am reading this year, or am about to read this year.

First on the list —

Substrate Phantoms by Jessica Reisman

An SF novel about love, loss, and contact with a truly alien intelligence too strange for humans to understand. If you love thoughtful far future SF with brilliant worldbuilding, this is for you.

(11) FROM TOLKIEN’S PANTRY. Lembas is “A bite of energy” – its origin and use is discussed at Middle-earth Reflections:

Different in strengthening properties and generally more pleasant than its brother cram, made by Men to keep them going in the wild, lembas was a special kind of waybread baked by the Elves alone. The name lembas is a Sindarin one: it is derived from an older version lenn-mbass meaning “journey-bread”. As the name implies, one could and needed to eat it on long journeys when there was no other food to support a traveller or if one’s life was in peril after receiving a hurt. With lembas being a very special — and essentially Elvish — kind of food, Galadriel and the Elves showed the Fellowship a great honour by giving it to them.

(12) THE WRITING DAY. RedWombat takes a break.

(13) A MANLY ANTHOLOGY. Superversive SF’s “Submission call for ‘To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity’” is open ‘til February 14, 2018.

We want…

  • Stories showing the masculine virtues in a positive light.
  • Stories that introduce or reintroduce young men to the manly virtues.
  • Stories that pay homage to men and masculinity.

I love that the post’s last line is –

Contact me at if you’re not sure.

(14) LOOK OUT BELOW. MeTV is ready to tell you — “Here’s what’s on the ground in ‘The Jetsons'”.

It goes like this: While The Flintstones seemingly takes place in the Stone Age, and The Jetsons is set in 2062, the two worlds co-exist. The Flintstones is the post-apocalyptic life on the surface under The Jetsons. Barney and Wilma live on the ground underneath George and Jane.

It’s a fun theory to debate at parties, but there is one big problem. We see what is on the surface in The Jetsons.

One of the most common misconceptions about The Jetsons is that the cartoon never shows the ground beneath Orbit City. The Jetson family lives in the Skypad Apartments. George works at Spacely Space Sprockets. Both cylindrical buildings project into the sky like birdhouses on long poles. It is a world of flying cars.

This optimistic vision of the 21st century often left viewers wondering — what is on the ground? Well, the answer is… hobos, walking birds, concrete and parks….

(15) ALT-CAT. Every day is a tough one when you’re battling fake news.

(16) DEL ARROZ ON CEBULSKI. Jon Del Arroz, now writing for The Federalist (called by a Bloomberg Politics writer “a source of original interviews and real-time arguments between conservatives and libertarians”) says “The Manufactured Outrage At Marvel’s New Editor In Chief Is Just A Power Play”. He calls the Cebulski story a “phony controversy” —

When Cebulski was named, it had a lot of comic readers scouring the Internet to find out who he was, and if he looked like he’d be able to right Marvel Comics’ sinking ship.

Most comic professionals praised the move. Longtime Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis said, “Creators, you’re about to be treated and fed SO [sic] well. This is a great day for comics. All in it together!” Christos Gage, writer of Netflix’s “Daredevil” season one, said, “Excellent choice in [Cebulski] as new Marvel EIC. He loves comics and comic book creators.” Even Marvel’s most vocal of critics seemed pleased with the move.

It didn’t take long for the gossip entertainment news to attack Cebulski, however. This week, Cebulski is the victim of manufactured identity politics outrage, in an attempt by the media to get him fired before his work as editor in chief even begins. Bleeding Cool, IO9, and the Huffington Post, outlets notorious for hyper-partisan clickbait, attacked Cebulski over the fact that 13 years ago he used a pseudonym to write a few books for Marvel. If it sounds like something not even worth mentioning, you’d be right, but it has the leftist outrage machine calling for Marvel to remove him.

Then with his usual rhetorical prestidigitization, Del Arroz equates Cebulski’s writing under an Asian pseudonym with D.C. Fontana going by her initials, and makes other leaps of illogic, such as —

If the media is right that Cebulski had to use a minority moniker to get a job, it means white men aren’t considered for the work, or at the very least, minorities are preferred. Therefore, pro-white racism in entertainment doesn’t and didn’t exist as far back as 15 years ago.

(17) HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR EGGS? Ethan Alter, in a Yahoo! Entertainment piece called “How all those ‘Star Wars’ cameos wound up in surprise box-office hit ‘Wonder'”, interviews Wonder director Stephen Chblosky about why his film packed with Star Wars Easter eggs,

Star Wars plays a small but significant role in Wonder; not only is it the singular obsession of the film’s main character, Auggie Pullman (played by Jacob Tremblay — a noted Padawan in his own right), but Chbosky also wrangled surprise cameo appearances by two residents of George Lucas‘s far, far away galaxy: a certain Wookiee co-pilot and a sinister Sith-turned-emperor, who appear in fantasy sequences imagined by Auggie, who initially prefers the company of fictional characters because real people struggle to adjust to his facial deformities caused by a rare medical condition. “I will point out, very proudly, that on Dec. 15 there will be two Chewbacca movies in theaters — that has never happened!” Chbosky says, laughing. “I really hope that being part of Wonder might help the box office of The Last Jedi. They’re really struggling over there.”

(18) FINAL PRANK. Carrie Fisher pulled a fast one on Mark Hamill.

Hamill, 66, spoke about his fond memories of his dear friend on a recent visit to the set of “Popcorn With Peter Travers.” He also recalled the last prank she pulled on him before she died on Dec. 27, 2016.

“We were sort of in an unofficial contest to get to 1 million Twitter followers first,” he explained of their competition from summer 2016. “She was 63,000 ahead of me … I said, ‘Game on girl!'”

As of now, Hamill has more than 2 million followers and Fisher posthumously has 1.19 million. Hamill, who was trailing in the beginning, said he started pulling these ridiculous stunts like offering up exclusive “Star Wars” clips to gain followers and catch up to Fisher.

“I felt bad, I was really gaining,” he said, so he also came up with a plan where the two could cross the milestone together, as on-screen brother and sister. “I sent her an email and I said, ‘Hey Carrie want to explode the internet?’ … We had never seen our wax figures at Madame Tussauds.”

The plan was to go, take pictures with the wax Luke and Leia figurines, then post on the internet to fans’ delights. But Fisher never emailed him back.

“Three of four days later, there she is at Madame Tussauds posing with my figure, posing with her figure, I went, ‘What!?’ I was livid,” he said. “I went to the studio the next day [and went right to her trailer]. I said, ‘Carrie, what did you do!? It was like … you threw the party and you didn’t invite me!'”

According to Hamill, she just looked up at him and said, “Should have I not done that?”

(19) LUNAR GLIMPSE. The only supermoon of 2017 rose on Sunday, December 3. Here are three galleries with some of the best photos.

(20) INTERVIEW WITH THE CAPTAIN. The Hollywood Masters features Patrick Stewart on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

[Thanks to DMS, Cathy Palmer-Lister, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Sci-Fi Roundup for November 28

Compiled by Carl Slaughter: (1) Vandalization of Star Trek

(2) We now know Ash is Voq, but these super fans compiled plenty of evidence before the big reveal.

(3) Discovery is Section 31

(4) Everything Wrong with the Wonder Woman movie

(5) Thor deleted scenes

(6) Green Lantern versus Batman

(7) Klingon nonsense: ScreenRant’s list “Star Trek: 15 Things That Make No Sense About Klingons” starts with forehead bumps.

Thank you Star Trek for giving us Klingons: the original TV bad guys in space who ultimately became good guys. Thy’re also the butt of so many jokes, now and in the fictional future.

Klingons are true alien icons; a mysterious race with rich traditions, a guttural language which is taught on earth in real life – even though they don’t actually… exist – and a whole lot of really odd narrative inconsistencies. When Gene Roddenberry first came up with the empirical nemesis to Starfleet’s interplanetary do-goodery, he probably had no idea that Klingon mythology would blow up into a sub-cultural mini-movement, inspiring everything from group cosplay to a staged production of Shakespeare in Klingonese.

Over the course of hundreds of TV episodes and movies, that extraterrestrial lore got very confused.

(8) Top 10 Marvel Heroes and Villains You Will Never See in the MCU

(9) Most of these are probably not your favorite Marvel characters.  But Marvel has an obligation to the fans to maintain continuity.  Don’t leave us hanging, Stan.

(10) 10 times Marvel lost their damn minds

(11) 10 Most Inappropriate Comics Storylines Of All Time

(12) Superhero commercials

(13) Storm Trooper paradox

(14) Social order revealed in Wall-E

(15) Stranger Things Cast Answer the Web’s Most Searched Questions

(16) Suppose a technologically advanced alien race is 65,000,000 light years from Earth.  Are they taking pictures of dinosaurs?

Sci-Fi Roundup for November 24

Compiled by Carl Slaughter. (1) The Joss Whedon Wonder Woman movie that wasn’t (fortunately). ScreenRant reveals “15 Things You Didn’t Know About Joss Whedon’s Canceled Wonder Woman Movie”.

  1. Cobie Smulders was (maybe) going to be Wonder Woman

Whedon ended his post announcing that his involvement with Wonder Woman was over by saying, “Finally and forever: I never had an actress picked out, or even a consistent front-runner. I didn’t have time to waste on casting when I was so busy air-balling on the script.

However, in a post-script, he mentions, facetiously or not, that he was looking at Cobie Smulders for the role. We mention this not because we think it was actually going to shake out that way, but because we think that, jokes aside, that would have been some solid casting. We love Gal Godot’s take, but we would have also loved Smulders’ version.

Whedon eventually directed Smulders in his Avengers movies, so at least that worked out.

(2) Another ScreenRant list: “15 things you completely missed in the Punishe”

  1. Pete Castiglione

If you thought the alias Frank Castle took on to hide his identity sounded familiar, there’s a good reason for that. It’s his family’s given name in the comics.

As immigrants came through Ellis Island in the early 20th century to gain citizenship to the United States, many surnames were changed to be simpler for officials to spell or pronounce. (Ever wondered why there are so many “Smiths” in the U.S.?) The Castiglione family came to the States from Italy, but upon arrival, their name became the simpler Castle.

Of course, the name does pop up in alternate timelines and “What If” comic book stories as well where the family didn’t change their name.

It was also revealed in more recent comics that there are other members of the Castiglione family in the U.S. besides Frank Castle, but they’ve all been living under assumed names. Maybe Frank still has some family out there in the MCU as well.

(3) Discover “15 superpowers you never knew the Punisher had” at ScreenRant.

  1. Invulnerability to the Penance Stare

Ghost Rider has some of the coolest superpowers, both known and unknown. By far his most powerful is the Penance Stare. By making eye contact the Rider can force someone to experience all the pain they’ve ever caused anyone while simultaneously reliving every painful memory they’ve ever had.

The end result is your eyeballs catching fire, insanity, death and, in some special cases, spontaneous combustion. To say the least it is not a pleasant experience. There are only a few in a existence immune to Ghost Rider’s deadly glare, and Frank Castle is one of them.

You would think if anyone was to feel the repercussions of the Penance Stare it would be the Punisher. After all he has brutally killed millions of people in any number of excruciating ways. Remember, the time he shot Wolverine in the face and groin? You just know that had to hurt.

Yet amazingly the Punisher was unaffected when he locked eyes with Ghost Rider. Why? Because he feels no guilt for the suffering he’s caused his victims. That’s badass. Realize for a second that the Penance Stare once brought Galactus to his knees. It didn’t even make the Punisher blink.

(4) Marvel Heroes players demand refund. ScreenRant reports: “Marvel Heroes Players Are Demanding Refunds Since It’s Shutting Down”

Fans of Marvel Heroes are not happy with the announcement of the game’s closure, and have begun to demand refunds for purchases made. Disney confirmed that the free-to-play RPG was being closed down earlier this week, with the company officially planning to shut the game down at the end of December and bringing with it the end of its relationship with developer Gazillion.

(5) 15 trivia facts about the Upside Down world of Stranger Things courtesy of ScreenRant.

  1. Eleven may be the first person to have encountered it

In season 1, we get multiple glimpses of Hawkins Lab’s cruel, torturous methods of training Eleven to cross dimensions and space in order to learn confidential information. However, during one of her sensory deprivation attempts, it isn’t a government entity or foreign message that Eleven comes across, but rather, the Demogorgon itself.

It’s in this expansive, black, void-like space that Eleven first encounters the Demogorgon and presumably the suggestion of the Upside Down with it. Further, she even comes into physical contact with the monster, perhaps establishing a physical link between the two.

Yet, while this is the first sign of the Upside Down’s existence (or creation?) that we are given, we still have no real idea about what this jarring moment suggests. Did the Upside Down exist before this point in time? Did the Demogorgon? Or was Eleven’s interference in the breach somehow responsible for their creation?

(6) ScreenRant fills in the blanks — “Star Wars: 15 Things You Never Knew Happened Between Episodes 3 And 4”.

  1. Han Solo Marries… someone who isn’t Leia

One of the most surprising moments in the Star Wars comics set after A New Hope was when a female smuggler showed up claiming to be the wife of Han Solo. Perhaps Leia wasn’t always the woman for him…

The backstory for this goes back to Han’s early days as a smuggler, long before that fateful cantina meeting in Mos Eisley. A crime lord had become known for double-crossing spice smugglers, and a gang of such smugglers devised a plan to get revenge. As part of this con, two of the gang – Han Solo and Sana Starros – had to have a marriage ceremony.

So it wasn’t exactly a marriage of love, and it wasn’t even completely legitimate. But that didn’t stop it being incredibly awkward when “Sana Solo” later crossed paths with Han and Princess Leia.

(7) Paranormal Action Squad pilot.  Think Ghost Busters meets Scoobie Doo with a bit of Futurama.

(8) Bizarre movies coming out in 2018.

(9) Movies that will blow everyone away in 2019.

(10) Jason Isaacs and Shazad Latif talk about Discovery at Den of Geek: “Jason Isaacs & Shazad Latif interview: Star Trek Discovery”

What was your relationship to Star Trek before you were cast?

Shazad Latif: My granddad was obsessed with it, my uncle had every episode on VHS. I grew up with TNG, which was on after Fresh Prince Of Bel Air.

Jason Isaacs: Yeah I’m so much older than you. I watched the original series when I was a kid, crammed on the couch with my brothers and parents. We always argued about which of the existing three channels we should watch, but we never argued when Star Trek was on, so I watched TOS on repeat many many times and I’ve watched nothing since then. None of the other series.

(11) It’s not a prop, it’s not a trinket. “Star Trek fans: Live your best life with this Bluetooth communicator”

However, there is one piece of merchandise that hovers above the rest — possibly because it literally looks like it fell straight out of the show’s set. The Star Trek Bluetooth communicator is the thing that fans never knew they needed.

The Bluetooth communicator seriously looks like an exact replica of the one from the original series. The attention to detail can be attributed to the fact that it was designed using a literal 3D scan of one of the last remaining communicator props. To boost the authenticity even more, it features 20 voice clips and conversation fragments from the show. Who else can say they can have a conversation with Spock when they’re bored?

Sci-Fi Roundup for November 23

Compiled by Carl Slaughter. (1) From about 30 seconds to about 1 minute and 45 seconds is delicious verbal sparing between Aquaman and Batman that I haven’t seen in any other trailer.  And no battlefield screaming and grunting and no accent, so everything Aquaman says is easy to understand.

(2) Justice League cast interview.

(3) Aquaman story trimmed in Justice League. ScreenRant says “Justice League Reshoots Erased Aquaman’s Mythology”.

… Remember when Willem Dafoe was revealed as Vulko, the citizen of Atlantis who watches over Arthur in the comics, grooming him to one day take over the crown as the people’s king? Well, some predicted his role in Justice League was in serious jeopardy when his character was included on an official poster… crudely hidden behind Amber Heard’s Mera (no editing, that is the real poster above).

The early seeds of that lifelong link to Atlantis were expected before Dafoe joined the solo Aquaman movie, and according to Momoa, that’s exactly what Snyder originally filmed:

“What Zack and I did, we were kind of trying to establish that he was taken down there as a boy, and he was an outcast, he was a half-breed. And he was built up as a young boy because he was fed all these ideas by Vulko – that he was the rightful king. And he gets down there and he’s a half breed, he’s impure, and I’m just made to feel like I’m this disease. So after that, I was like, ‘F*** you, f*** you, I’m on my own.’

That’s not the only key piece of Aquaman’s original Justice League arc, but his emotional turn (thanks to Diana’s lasso) still arguably relies on this groundwork being laid beforehand. Now, let’s take a step into the real mythology….

(4) No Zack Snyder director’s cut for Justice League. ScreenRant tells why in “Don’t Expect a Zack Snyder Cut of Justice League”.

While it’s true that Snyder did all pre-production and principal photography, a close (or casual, in some cases) look at Justice League will show that his influence didn’t extend much farther. Thanks to some wonky green screen work, and awkward CGI upper lip on Henry Cavill, and alternate versions of scenes from the trailers, it’s fairly easy to pick apart the fingerprints on the final product, and Whedon’s imprint is clearly far more than advertised, with only a shot or two (and next to no dialogue) of Snyder’s Superman remaining. The leak of a few deleted scenes show even more that Snyder’s version included far more fleshed out backstories and a darker, higher contrast color grade. It makes sense that fans are petitioning for a Zack Snyder cut of the movie

(5) Justice League deleted scenes.

(6) Geez, how many Justice League clips are there?

(7) Brutal Punisher moments Netflix won’t show you.

(8) Marvel’s New Warriors Pulled Might Go to Other Networks